This post is about how to visit the Washington Monument, including tips on getting here, how to get tickets and how to plan your trip.
It is free to see the Washington Monument (unless you opt for pre-ordered tickets), but you will need a timed ticket to get into it. NOTE: The monument is under renovation and expected to reopen to the public in Spring 2019.
You can get a ticket by reserving one in advance, which is recommended, especially in the summer months. Go to http://www.recreation.gov, or call 1.877.444.6777 for individual tickets or 1.877.559.6777 for group reservations.
There is a $1.50 service charge per ticket and a limit of 6 tickets per order.
All persons over the age of 2 are required to have a ticket. Tickets are available 3 months before the date of visit. It’s best to book tickets as soon as possible during peak season.
There are also a limited number of tickets given away each day, beginning at 8:30 am. The tickets are given away at the Washington Monument Lodge, whose address is 2 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20024 (map) and is located in front of the Monument.
It’s also where the small gift shop and bathrooms are located.
NOTE FOR SAME DAY TICKETS TO THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT:
If you plan on getting same-day tickets to the Washington Monument during Spring/Summer months, expect an early morning.
If you don’t get same day tickets, you may still be in luck. School groups visiting between March-June often order too many tickets in advance. Since they cannot use them all, many groups will hand out tickets to guests waiting around the base of the memorial.
There is no way to time this so fate has to be on your side, but if its a nice day and you see a lot of matching t-shirts, it may be worth hanging out to see!
Luckily you can see the Monument from most of the city, making it easy to figure out which way to go. However, looks can be deceiving and it is often farther away than it appears.
Its address is 2 15th Street, NW. (map).
The nearest Metro stations are either the Smithsonian Metro or Federal Triangle, both on the Blue/Orange/Silver lines.
While the Federal Triangle stop is technically closer, at 12th and Pennsylvania Ave NW, the Smithsonian stop (red circle) is the easiest – it’s a 6-minute walk from this station along the National Mall to the ticket office.
If you are unfamiliar with DC’s subway system, be sure to read our guide to mastering the DC Metro.
There is limited parking in the area and they have strictly enforced regulations. On-street parking along Constitution Ave NW are subject to time limits as well as rush-hour enforcement.
You can reserve a parking spot in a garage near the Washington Monument through a service called Parking Panda. Once you choose a spot that works for you, they’ll email you a parking pass and you can drive downtown knowing that space will be waiting for you. Pretty easy!
Visitor’s Tip: Plan your timed tickets to coincide with the sunset for beautiful views!
You will have to go through security before heading into the elevator to go up the Monument, so plan on being there a little before your ticket time.
Once you reach the base of the monument, look for a U.S. Park Ranger in a green shirt and beige hat. He or she will direct you to one of two benches to sit down and wait until your time slot is called into the security entrance.
The image is taken from the Washington Post.
Security takes in 10 people at a time, but the line moves relatively quickly.
WARNING: You will be exposed to all elements while waiting for security. There is no cover and you may be in direct sun for 20 minutes or more. Be sure to prepare for all weather conditions.
Items that you may not bring into the Monument:
Visitor Tip: There is no storage facility at the monument. Learn about some options to store your luggage on an hourly basis.
Expect to spend approximately 60 minutes at the Washington Monument, from lining up till exiting the structure. You can spend a bit more time if you find the view and exhibits more interesting than the average visitor.
Once you pass through security, you will be directed to the line to take the elevator to the 500′ (152 m) observation deck. Since there is only one elevator to go up and down, you may sometimes have to wait in the lobby. Don’t worry, there is a bench. While waiting, have a look at the bust of George Washington.
The elevator ride up is accompanied by a park ranger who will tell you a brief summary of the monument. Brief because the whole elevator ride takes about 70 seconds! When you’re at the top of the obelisk there are two levels of views and exhibits for you to view at your own pace. The elevator ride down is about 2 minutes, again with ranger commentary and a chance to view the inside of the monument.
Once off the elevator, you’ll be let off at the highest point open to the public where you can look out on all four sides of the obelisk. Along the viewpoints, you will also find guides to show you what you can see from each window.
Once you have finished with the views (and take as long as you want, this is now self-paced!), you can take the stone steps found in the corner down to the museum level. Don’t worry, it’s only one level so you don’t have to walk down all 897 steps to the bottom.
This next level has an exhibit about the building and maintenance of the monument. Learn about the earthquake in 2012 or the many times the monument has been hit by lightning. On this level, you can wait for the next elevator. Once it drops off people at the top exhibit level, it comes down to pick up guests going down.
The ride down lasts about 1 min longer than the way up. On the way down, the ranger will turn off the lights in the elevator, so you can see the commemorative stones on the inside of the memorial. Many civic organizations, states, and individuals donated commemorative stones in the 19th century for the construction of the memorial. Click here to learn more about the stones.
You’ll be able to see some from either side so it doesn’t matter where you are in the elevator, but if you really want a photo of one, try not to be in the center.
Once you reach the bottom, you will be guided to the exit and your tour of the inside of the monument will be over. You will probably notice some people laying on the ground at the base of the monument with their legs and feet pointing up to the sky taking photos. Will you be one of them?
And although you will get so much information on our tours, I just can’t leave you without any trivia: